More thoughts on Collecting Experiences

Rising up to collecting experiences

Rising up to the experience

When thinking about my last post on “Collecting Experiences” a paradox came to mind. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could collect certain experiences that only having some things, or living a certain life, would allow. This wishing leaves me with a sense of longing. I had such a feeling the other day when I was at Kopp’s Frozen Custard, a local restaurant which describes itself as being a landmark in the metro Milwaukee area, to pick up some butter pecan custard. For my husband and I, Kopps is “the” place for butter pecan. We get a schedule of the flavor forecast Kopp’s prints up and mark all the butter pecan days so as not to miss a one of them.

That is why I made a trek out to the Kopp’s on Bluemond road in Brookfield, it was butter pecan day. I was at Kopps waiting for my custard when I looked out the window and noticed two Jeep Wrangler’s pull into the parking lot. Two middle-aged couples climbed out and stood by their vehicles talking. I had an image of people with money who buy brand name clothes and are spending their Monday four-wheeling it around in their Jeep Wrangler dune buggy type cars. I imagined a life of sail boats and yachts, horses and traveling, friends and catered affair gatherings. All this in a flash. A sort of feeling flash.

“Hey, wait,” I thought. “What about collecting experiences?” I am sure this is my spirit guided self. Always looking for the silver lining, always pulling me back from the edge, always being the voice of acceptance and love gently reminding me of the power of consciousness

“Yeah, well, what about collecting experiences that only having those things can give,” I retorted. I’m sure that is my ego self. The self that wants what it wants and wants it now, thank you very much.

Truth is I could sit and feel this longing all day and into night and it won’t change a darn thing except bring me more longing. I had to shake those things out of my head with a little nudge from my higher self and deliberately focus on what I personally experience in any given moment. The kind of experiences that I can only have with my life the way it is.

“And just what would those be,” I felt myself stiffen in response, sure that my experiences could not be as great as those that only having money could offer. Right off the top of my head, at that moment, when I was on the spot, I couldn’t think of much but I made a conscious decision to become aware of when I am experiencing things that bring life to me.

The next day while I was walking the dogs, I basked in the sun drenched cool autumn day with temps in the mid 60’s. A mild fragrant breeze rustled the leaves on the trees. Some leaves broke loose sending yellow leaves  gently wafting downward around me. I reached up as one drifted passed and caught it. I was feeling exuberant joy, light and happy while walking in this tranquil scene, I realized that how living with a man who loves me and has been with me for more than 33 years brings me great joy and delight and soothes my soul, that my kids and their families enrich my life more than I even realize sometimes and my pets are a great comfort and help me get outside and keep me on track with my exercise. I have a friend or two who I can talk things over with and get me set back on track, a brother whose relationship has healed and matured. I realized that I am blessed with living in a place where a beautiful county park with miles of hiking trails and a small lake is just about a mile from our house. All I have to do is walk out the door, walk 15 minutes and I am there. I can go there every single day and bask in nature if I so choose. Cranes live there and a red-tailed hawk, deer rabbits, squirrels. I’ve even seen a blue bird which caused me to exclaim out loud, “Oh, look, a blue bird”. There are horse trails that are used by many people who own horses. Even though I can’t own a horse or live on a cool ranch surrounded by horses I get to look in their big beautiful deep brown eyes  as we pass each other on the trail.

Collecting Experiences

All of these things are where my experiences come from. No money is involved. No expensive equipment. I am grateful for these experiences. It’s just sometimes I forget. I go unconscious and move from day-to-day taking care of my daily tasks. And sometimes, like the day I bought the custard, I will think that some people “have” more. From there I determine these people have better, more interesting, more exciting experiences. I stop short of thinking about those who are less fortunate than I. For one, who am I to judge those as less fortunate. Likewise who am I to judge those as more fortunate. However I don’t seem to have much of a problem comparing myself to those who have things, money, or whatever else I haven’t a clue about because that is not me.

My experiences and how my life contributes to the kinds of experiences I have may seem simple and understated but when I am experiencing them I feel a profound sense of joy, peace and aliveness. That is, when I am consciously allowing myself to be present and grateful. But I guess that’s the trick. To be conscious. To be grateful. To not dwell on that which I can’t change or that which I don’t have. I have my higher spirit self to thank for bringing me back, for reminding where I need to put my thoughts and energy. Let’s face it. There is always plenty out there for me to think that my life lacks. It’s up to me. It’s my choice.  I can choose life and feeling joy, or like something is missing and feeling longing or even resentment.   For now I am choosing to look for my blessings, collect experiences that only my life can give me and I think I am choosing wisely.  What do you think?

Related links:

Fabulous 50’s. A great photo blog by a fiftyish baby boomer who’s sub title says ‘Collect experiences…not things’.
Collect Experiences Not Things.  A thoughtful post titled like mine with like minded thoughts posted on Gifts of Serendipity.
Collect Experiences Not Things. Another great blog post by Corey Barton in his blog Healthy Living: Stories about how I took my life from negative to positive.

Collect Experiences

How was your summer? Was it a long hot one? In Wisconsin it was definitely a long hot summer. This summer I turned 62 and I grappled with that birthday. It’s hard to believe I’m 62 and yet I am well aware that I have been around for 62 years. It’s been a wild ride these 62 years. Lots of experiences. Some good. Some not so good. Some really fantastic and some down right awful. It is these experiences that I think is the stuff of life. I even came up with a little “saying” for lack of a better word to help remind me about what is important.  The living of life not acquiring things.  The saying  goes like this:

Collect Experiences Not Things.

Actually when I did a Google search on that saying I discovered that it was not an original idea at all.  Such is life.  Anyway, I believe that it is experiences that can never be taken away. Unless of course the great cosmic design has Alzheimer or some other brain/memory disorder written in the cards. But for now, while I am still vibrant, I am on a quest to collect experiences.

Demonstrating what a monkey does while at the zoo.

Right now at this point in my life I am collecting many experiences taking care of our little 2-year-old grandson, in addition to experiences with other members of our family  With Gavin, however, I am with him at least 34 hours a week which allows for a lot of experience collecting.  He is one darling little boy who is showing me what it means to meet life with exuberance and joy. He teaches me about trust and openness.

Our house is full but not just with our grandson. We also have Angie and Susie our dog and cat. However, I got a wild notion one day that I would like to have another dog. Seems I thought there was room for one more, like our house need more life.
I mentioned to my husband Mike my thought about another dog and he said, “yeah, sure” but he didn’t know I was seriously considering it, like right this very minute. Once he said, “sounds good” I immediately looked at a couple of humane society web sites. I had a specific idea of what I was looking for. I wanted a dog smaller than Angie, our chocolate lab/pit bull/Rhodesian ridge-back etc mix. Although Angie’s hair is short she sure can shed. I wanted a dog that didn’t shed. So smaller, less hair.

I found many dogs like that on the web sites but they were mostly males which I never wanted because of an experience I had when I was around 12 with a girlfriends male dog going at it on my leg. It was a mortifying experience and so I stayed away from male dogs. In addition, the humane societies were asking hundreds of dollars to adopt a pet. I wanted a dog but I didn’t want to shell out that kind of money. So, I said to the universe that I would be open and wait and see what comes my way. Angie came into our lives as a stray running loose in the small town we lived in at the time. That was six years ago. I thought maybe another dog would come into my life in a similar fashion. I didn’t have to wait long.

On July 22 days before my 62 birthday, Dean-o, a little Italian Greyhound/Whippet mix showed up. It’s kind of an interesting story. I’ll save that for another time. Right now I am talking about experiences and how they are the stuff of life. And so…

I realized that it is through experiences that I feel truly alive. Well, that and being foolish a sentiment I articulated in the quote below and wrote about in my post Foolishness means Aliveness:

To Be Foolish Means To Truly Be Alive.

What I mean by surrendering to what I perceive is my foolishness  is that I am able to fully engage in an experience. On the big plus side if you spend my life collecting experiences I won’t need a big house or storage facility to store them. And many experience are basically free.

Okay, so there I was back in July turning 62 and adopting a new dog which brought me a whole set of experiences in itself, yet feeling how can I get more out of life? How can I get more out of life on a limited budget? Suddenly an idea just showed up for me to find, just like little Dean-o, the Italian Greyhound/Whippet mix, which I can’t wait to tell you about in a later post.

Hiking the Ice Age TrailI took Angie, our resident dog and Dean-o, the new little guy, to Kettle Moraine State Forest for a hike. It seems Dean-o needs plenty of time and space to run.  On this day, in late July, the dogs and I went to hike the trails of the Southern unit of Kettle Moraine. I wrote about these trails in January in my post Peacefully Coexist. In this forest there is the red trail and the blue trail and the green trail.

The Wisconsin Ice Age TrailBut there is also the yellow trail which is the Ice Age Trail. It’s more rugged and less traveled than the regular hiking trails because it was built and is maintained entirely by volunteers. Because there were others out on the trails that day I veered off the regular hiking trails and took the ice age trail.

Hiking rocky rugged ice age trail

The rocky, rugged Ice Age Trail

It was a great hike that day. I totally enjoyed nature and the solitude. I fell in love with the ice age trail. I was hooked. I wanted more. Seemed to me I remembered seeing on the internet that the ice age alliance published maps the trail. Before I left that day I stopped in at the ranger station and purchased a loose leaf binder with all the maps of the 1000 mile trail winding through Wisconsin. My goal, to eventually walk the whole thing albeit in increments. That is what I have been doing once a week since July 30.  So far I hiked 52 miles of the trail. I feel pretty good about it.

Yet… I have felt foolish. Foolish because I was doing it by myself, cept the dogs of course, with myself and for myself. This to me feels like utter selfishness and foolishness.   However, while I am hiking, I allow myself to surrender to the experience. I bring snacks and water and a camera. I feel so totally peaceful and serene out there on the trail. However, if I gave into my feeling being foolish I probably would have abandoned the whole thing. I haven’t done that. Instead I surrendered to foolishness; I’m collecting my experiences and feel truly alive.

So here is my crone wisdom pearl: collect experiences and share them with others. Whether they be joyful or not. It is the experiences that make up who we are. Our individual experiences are our story. Sharing your experiences/ story with others can not help but breed compassion, understanding and a sense of belonging. What do you think?

Links for the Ice Age Trail:
Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age National Scenic Trail Wisconsin
Ice Age Trail – Wikipedia

See You in September


I am feeling overwhelmed and drained. Like the passion and life have seeped out and I’m weak and weary with not much to give or to say. I guess I’m saying, I need to take a step back and regroup. With that in mind I am going to go on a vacation from blogging. I figure I will need a number of weeks so I will be back in September. Until then I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the summer. If you are in a part of the country experiencing a heat wave, stay cool, if you are where it is cool, keep warm, if you are where it is dry, stay wet, if you are where it is wet, stay dry. I guess that about covers it. I hope to See you in September.

Women Gather, Magic Happens

A CD at Amazon.comWhen women gather magic happens. That’s a bold statement but one that I personally experienced and that I heard voiced this weekend from the women who came to gather at Cedar Valley near West Bend, WI. Once a year for at least 15 years Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak of Way of the Willow put together an opportunity for women to gather. This weekend’s gathering Circling: Walking the Wheel of our Life made use of the medicine wheel (see link below) to look at ways we can be unbalanced in our life.  This weekend had its challenges for sure but over all I had an awakening, an opening up and an allowing of myself to be me, the joking, loving, heart on sleeve, fully present for others, vulnerable me.

The first women gathering weekend I attended a number of years ago, although powerful, was more than challenging, it was rocky and rough. The me I just described would show up in bursts and fill me with shame and humiliation at her antics. When I’m being me, I am wide open, vulnerable. In this state, I can screw up, get carried away and say something that could be misinterpreted and I have no defense, after all I am being who I am, I am being me. And so my reflexive ego saving defenses would kick in and I would clam up, retreat to my room or go for a walk. When sitting down to eat with the other women I would get up and leave as soon as I was done, not allowing myself to sit, be and communicate with the other women. When the weekend was over I would make a hasty retreat, trying to extricate myself as unobtrusively as possible. Worst case scenario, I would leave early, just sneaking away with my tail between my legs.

That was then and like I said this time things were different. For one I’m older and the changes I made with myself through the years although minute at the time have tallied up. So although my growth was imperceptible day-to-day the cumulative effect is substantial. And also,I have been working with Cathy on her e newsletter WillowTalk, and her blog Life. A New Perspective. So, I went to the weekend feeling safe to be myself, to express me.

At one point I did have a melt down. Not an overly dramatic, big, splashy, meltdown. At least I hope it didn’t appear that way. I thought it was more like a silent, quiet, hiding, a need to retreat and cry silently by myself meltdown. My bouncing around feeling like myself caused me to hear myself say, “Oh, my God. What are you doing? You’re so stupid,” in my head. At which point I sat down, covered my head and cried.  Two fantastic, generous, caring women graciously and inconspicuously, or what I felt was inconspicuous, helped me out. This meltdown was silly really but it turned out to be my catalyst for awareness about imbalance in my life.

On Saturday we were to spend time alone either journaling, walking out in nature collecting things for a prayer stick, working in our big meeting room with art materials to create a mandala, resting or whatever we needed or wanted to do to reflect on ways we get out of balance and how to bring ourselves back in balance.

Swinging free at Cedar ValleyI chose to do everything. While walking on the serene grounds at Cedar Valley which has many trails with powerful art objects throughout, a chapel, an outdoor labyrinth, a pond for swimming, horses and goats, I came across a cool swing hanging from a tree. I had my camera with me so jumped on that swing and took my picture. I can see from the picture I took that I am feeling free and myself. Not long ago I wrote a blog about how as a child swinging gave me a sense of freedom

After a quick dip in the pond I went back to the meeting room to assemble my prayer stick and create a mandala. I needed some inspiration for that mandala so I went to the table that had these meditation cards. There was this deck called the Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards. After breathing, centering myself and asking for guidance, I drew a card. It was a Mole! A big part of me wanted to put that card back. What can a mole say to me. I knew that I needed to accept what comes my way so reluctantly opened the book to the description of the mole. I was blown away. I took that book over to the table with the art supplies and copied down what it said inserting my personal interpretations in parenthesis.

This is the point at which to examine your life, detach your interest from the ways of the past (insecurity, guilt, self-loathing) and recreate yourself (Trust, self-confidence, passion, power). You are the guardian of yourself. Come up above the ground into the light (awareness, clarity, consciousness). Live in the present by incorporating your knowledge and vision of past and future (writing). Each new moment is an opportunity to awaken so self (conscious awareness) and burrow deeper into earth goodness (trust, faith, hope). You have the power to heal your life and create your life anew in any moment. Listen to the messages you receive from above (higher self) guiding you to the whole healing of your body, mind and soul (integration).

Then I made a mandala with the picture of the mole in the middle.

mole mandala

What I learned was that I can get out of balance when I am being my spontaneous, open self and unconscious memories from the past can cause negative self talk and throw me off. Instead of getting lost in those past emotions and thoughts, I can become aware of what is happening and get back to trust and faith. I need not punish myself when I get out of balance. It is part of life. Instead I can face and accept my imbalance and strive for balance.

I came away with three reminders to help me do this. My prayer stick, my mandala where I copied the meditation from the book and the little card Cathy and Dawn gave us to fill out as reminders about what we learned.

I face Southwest. I strive for balance in Trust, Clarity, Intuition, Passion and Power with my creative unique writing with the help of Great Spirit.

I am not the only woman to reap such benefits from that weekend. Each woman in turn filled out their card with their own message. Each woman was awed by the magic that happens when women gather. I would highly recommend that women gather to help bring themselves into balance which in turn can help balance the energies on this planet.

Related links:
Wikipedia’s article on the medicine wheel.
Bighorn Wyoming’s medicine wheel
Circle of Women music CD

Listen to the Cherokee Morning song by  Walela.  An uplifting song that we heard this weekend during of our retreat.

Crone wisdom and Storytelling

Crone woman with loyal sidekick

Crone with loyal sidekick

Over a year ago on June 25 I decided to go for it and write a blog about crone wisdom. In my first two posts, Hello and On Becoming a Crone, I explored the how and why on my choice of topic. However, blogging was the start of delving into to a more structured writing life. I thought if I had a blog post to put out it would force me to write which is what I thought I wanted to do. And I do want to write it’s just that being more focused on it is more work than I realized. I read somewhere that writing is 80% work and 20% fun. Before being more structured about my writing that was just a concept. Now I get that 80/20% thing on a more personal level. I had the thought in my head that it should be the other way around. But now that I’m more into it I can see that thinking up ideas, finding the right words, and endless rewriting is the bulk of writing which is the work part. Then when I’m done and I say, well, that is the best I can do at this time and its pretty OK, I feel like I accomplished something.

Anyway, after kicking around a few ideas I thought I wanted to write about what life is like during the third trimester of life from one woman’s perspective. I thought being an older woman is viewed negatively in our culture. Actually you could say being older altogether is not highly valued but for a woman it is especially looked down on. From reading different books and pursuing the internet I discovered the concept of the crone with regard to older women. At first I cringed. Crone, I thought Who the heck wants to be an old crone. Aren’t they witches? Like the wicked witch of the west in the Wizard of Oz.

Blyth Danner: A crone is beautifulThen I realized that a crone is actually an older woman who has cultivated wisdom from her decades of living, learning and experiencing. That’s who I am is actually a crone minus the stereotypes. Actually, many older women born of the baby boom generation are experiencing life in the 21st century differently than women of previous generations. We/I had the benefit of the 60’s exploration, woman’s lib, and various personal exploration methods like rebirthing, transactional analysis, to name a few

So when I started my blog I called it Jazzminey Crone Chronicles suggesting that I am chronicling the life of a crone, a baby crone actually implying that I am new into cronedom which I saw as a woman past menopause living life fully, embracing life, taking care of herself psychically, emotionally and mentally, being an inspiration to the upcoming generations that being an older woman does not mean she need take up a rocker and watch life go by. That she can be in life and actually contribute to it from her place of an elder in society, a wise elder, a wise woman elder, a crone, a wise woman crone elder.

That is the place I wanted to come from when writing my blog. It wasn’t to just hand out advice and tell others the best way to live but to portray my struggles and accomplishments, excitements and disappointments, joys and sorrows and how I dealt with them. To synthesis my accumulated past experiences, learning and knowledge into a wisdom pearl, to give added depth and sense meaning to the present and share what meaning I got out of the experience through storytelling.

Taking the path of the croneI have shared 62 experiences in my first year of blogging. I started out enthusiastically blogging twice a week after which I settled into my now once a week post. I touched on many different topics that were relevant to me at the time of writing. I hope in my posts I showed that an older woman, a crone, has a rich and varied inner as well as outer life. That life is not over after 60. Sure life is different now that I’m older but I can still be physically active, learn new things, change old habits, develop new ones and even consider the possibility of a life purpose and pursue that. To me that is what a Crone is all about.

In my second post of all time I had a link to a poem. I am adding it here, shall I say, linkless, as a way of marking my first year of blogging, of chronicling my life as a crone, jazzminey crone chronicles.

Crone Wisdom

Night is the time of the Crone
After the heat of day
After the heat of youth
The coolness of the Crone comes

 Night is the time of the Crone
Cool breezes carry her wise words
Her secrets unfold in the quiet time
Echoing ancient truths

 Listening is a gift of the Crone
Seasons of living opened her ears
Pain and joy have opened her heart
Acceptance of others opened her spirit

 All Crones have wisdom to share
Some know the Goddess…some do not
Open and listen to the Crones you meet
Value their wisdom that is offered to you

 Age is not to be feared, but embraced . . .
wrinkles are not to be hated, but explored . . .
they are the map of a person’s life, carried upon their face . .
movement slows as wisdom grows . . . this is a truth of life’s later season . . .


Links on Crone Wisdom

An article on One Crone’s Wisdom
Rebirth of the Crone Archetype
A deck of 54 Wisdom of the Crone meditation cards
Elderwoman links and resources
Crone: Empowered, Wise, Self-defined
Celebrating Creative Women: Treasuring Maturity